I mean, the title of this post is pretty morbid but there was no beating around the bush here – every human on this Earth will at some point pop their clogs and it’s never nice or easy to deal with.
Last week my beautiful Nanny passed away. I was devastated – she’d caught a bug which affected her heart, and within five weeks she’d gone from a fit and healthy 86 year old woman to dead.
My Nanny and Grandad, my dad’s parents, lived in a little tied cottage on a fruit farm in the depths of the Kentish countryside. From an early age I used to go and stay with them; helping my Nan pick strawberries, raspberries, apples, pears, cobnuts and lots more. I used to spend my summers riding my bike around the farm, eating warm ham and cucumber sandwiches in the cold store and helping my Grandad grow plants and vegetables.
Of course I’ve lost people before – my other grandparents died many years ago, my other dear Nan being the hardest. Eleven years on I still miss her dreadfully and most days I often wish she’d got to meet my husband and son.
Back in 2015 when the boy was two months old my Grandad from the fruit farm was taken ill; he died shortly after and I was pretty numb to it, to be honest. I was in the grip of pretty severe post natal depression and I was on three anti-depressants at the time. I’ve spoken about the ‘happy pills’ many a time – it’s great that they take away all the bad thoughts but they sucked away every feeling I had about anything. I couldn’t squeeze a tear out to mourn the loss of my beautiful blue-eyed Grandad. I was numb.
My Nan and I were close – of course I didn’t visit her as often as I should/could have – but we used to chat for hours, talking about the royal family, local gossip and often, how much she missed my Grandad. They’d been married a week short of sixty years when he died.
I’ve always been so proud of her – she worked on the farm for over sixty years and only retired when she was 82. She was fit, healthy and aside from watching her cholesterol and weight, had no health problems.
What was so cruel about losing her was how she had gone to hospital, recovered and then gone home. I thought she was okay, I thought she’d live another good few years yet.
The week we went on holiday she was readmitted to hospital; her heart and kidneys were failing and it would only be a matter of days, weeks, months – however long.
On the Saturday she died I spoke to my mum; we were three and half hours from home and she gently urged me to come back swiftly, and to go and see Nan.
I did exactly that – I drove to the hospital, grabbed a cup of coffee and walked the long corridor to visit Nan. And seeing her that night will stay with me forever.
Death is a strange thing. She knew she was dying – a smart-arse might say we are always dying, the clock is ticking, but she knew her time was up.
We talked about random things; she told me she was glad I’d gone to see her, she told me repeatedly how pleased she was I was with her, she asked me to ‘stay a while longer’.
She told me how she didn’t want to live anymore. She didn’t want to live like this – stuck in a bed, not able to get up and walk around.
“I’ve had a lovely life” she told me. I was so angry, sad, yet I almost willed her to go to sleep, to take her last breath, to not suffer anymore.
My dad arrived a couple of hours later – I squeezed her hands one last time, told her I loved her and said goodbye. She died an hour later, peacefully in her sleep.
What I’ve experienced since is raw, real grief.
She’s safe, not suffering and is somewhere pleasant; looking over me with my Grandad – that’s my belief anyway.
I would do anything to have her back. To have a chat, to hug her, kiss her.
It’s been nearly two weeks, the funeral is next week, and it doesn’t feel any easier. I believe there are many stages of grief – and there is no right or wrong way to grieve.
The purpose of this post? It’s easy to try and pretend everything is okay. After suffering with PND, depression and anxiety people automatically think that I’m depressed if I shed a tear.
Grief is a healing process. It’s almost unbearable to lose someone you love; it’s upsetting to realise you will never see that person again.
I’m not depressed – I’m just grieving. In fact, I’m not *just* grieving – I’m grieving, and I don’t have to dumb it down.
This one’s for you, Nan.